He Reminds Me

My friends talk about how a person shouldn’t need another person to be happy, and they’re absolutely right. I don’t need another person to be happy; I was happy. I found happiness in the solitude, in my friends and family, in writing, reading, rediscovering myself. I’m weird and quirky, easily excitable, and so so caring. I fell in love with myself for the first time.

Something has been missing though. Something intangible and immeasurable, like the whispering of wind through the trees.

For the longest time, I thought I had a hole in my heart that could never be filled; I thought there was something wrong with me. But, I think, maybe the best things happen when you aren’t seeking them out, when you just let life’s current sweep you away.

I am happy. I’m happy with the growth and progress I’ve made and with who I’ve become.

But I would be lying if I said he didn’t magnify the happiness I’ve found 100 fold. He reminds me that I am worthy of more than simple happiness. He reminds me of exhilarating euphoria. He reminds me that I deserve to be challenged and utterly amazed. He reminds me of galaxies and constellations.

He feels like a hot cup of coffee next to the fire on a cold winter morning. He makes me feel electrifyingly alive. He feels like a gentle breeze on a sultry summer evening. He makes me feel calm and safe in a world full of disastrous chaos. He feels like everything I’ve ever been missing.

He reminds me that it’s okay to put my trust into someone again: that just because I’ve been hurt in the past doesn’t mean that he’s going to do the same. He reminds me that I’m a priority; our relationship matters to him. He reminds me that opening up and vulnerability are strengths, and I can trust him with anything I’m going through. And he always, always reminds me that I am worthy of love.

I can’t promise to never be irrational or absurd; I’m not good at keeping my emotions in check (no matter how much I try to convince myself that I am). I can’t paint him original art pieces because I think in words and feelings, and I can’t sing him beautiful melodies as my range is never quite on key. I’m not good at poetry or ballads, creating or performing. Honestly, I’m not good at much, but I can guarantee I’ll be good to him.

Some Days

I’ve taken the time to work on me; I found the tools and rebuilt what was salvageable, fortified what was still standing: all while clearing away the rubble of the past.

Here and there, you’ll find a crack in the foundation, an oversight on my part: something I said I’d come back to later. Sometimes a leak will spring: usually something as minor as a dripping faucet, rarely a ruptured pipe.

Some days, I don’t notice the small imperfections awaiting my attention. I revel in the sturdiness of the frame around me: captivated by the exquisite architecture. I sit, contentedly, admiring the décor: the colors, the art. Some days, the flaws add character and charm; some days I love the quirks.

Yet, some days, I cannot stand seeing the places where the paint has chipped away, the scuffs and scratches on the floor from all the pacing and worry. Some days, the basement floods, the power goes out, and there’s a storm raging outside. On these days, it’s tempting to just take a sledgehammer to the walls and start over, rebuilding from the ground up.

But I’d lose all the integrity and stability that I worked so hard to attain. All the memories and nostalgia would end up fading like the early morning fog.

The content days out number the overwhelming ones; it isn’t worth it to sacrifice all the work and effort just to pursue the idea of perfection. Many things appear perfect from the outside. I may even appear perfect to someone looking from afar.

Just because you can’t see the cracks or don’t notice them doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Someday, soon perhaps, I will find the time to finish repairing what I started. Before everything crumbles again.

Whatever the Opposite of Chamomile Is

“When she is unable to avoid the matter further, she makes a pot of tea.”

― Erin Morgenstern

Okay, so this post might be the most difficult one I’ve ever written. There are, currently, only 3 other people beside myself who I’ve shared these details with. When I first started writing this, I wrote out a play-by-play of the entire relationship, and it ended up being close to 9 pages front and back (yes, I still write out a handwritten draft like it’s the stone ages). To save y’all from having to read a novel, I’ve decided to summarize the first two thirds-ish and get into more detail when the kettle started boiling.

For some brief background information, I was what you’d call a late bloomer. I wasn’t interested in dating anyone until the end of my junior year, and I’ve only had 3 boyfriends, total (4 if you count the German foreign exchange student I “dated” for a week lol).

Back to the main story, my most recent, most unpleasant, and messiest relationship*. In 2014, I made possibly my stupidest decision ever, one that would affect my life for almost exactly 4.5 years. Ex** was charismatic and persistent, and I should have known better. I had heard all the rumors (he had slept with my best friend ffs!). But to me, in my personal experience, he was reliable and constant.


Pause for a second and let me explain the thing about my best friend. She and he were fwb for a while, and I knew it was a semi-touchy subject with her. So I definitely talked to her about it before ever acting on my feelings. She was one of the only people to be honest with me about him. I still remember what she said when I broached the subject: I don’t like him, and I don’t approve, but I will support you if this is what you want. (She was/is the real MVP 💛)


Okay, okay, okay. Back to the story again. The relationship was rough from the start. For example, the first time he tried to kiss me, I had a cold sore on my lip. He leaned in; I panicked. I straight up dodged him and yelled, “HERPES!” So uh… yeah. That was how the relationship started.

Now, I’m just going to try to summarize the first 3 years as quickly as possible. From March 2014 to about September 2015, Ex cheated on me (to my knowledge) with 3–THREE—different women. I’m sure there were more that I didn’t ever find out about, but yeah.

There’s the first cup of tea; I hope you’re thirsty.

After this first year-and-a-half, we broke up for a fat minute. I joined my college’s production of Little Shop of Horrors while he did… who whatever he was doing. After a couple of weeks, he started texting me saying he missed me and wanted me back. When I kept refusing, trying to move on, he eventually showed up at my house one night, crying and literally begging me to take him back. When I still refused, he THEN claimed that he was suicidal and needed me to be his “reason for living.”

I do not ever ever ever mess around with suicide, anxiety, or depression, and I don’t even pretend like I could help a truly suicidal person off that ledge. Considering my family history, him saying that was a low blow. So, I forced him to call his parents and tell them that he needed help. I assume they sent him to therapy–he told me they did (he also claimed he talked to his therapist about the cheating 🙄).

Since I was 19 and incredibly stupid, I ended up taking him back. Even moving to a new city 2 hours away from my home town with both him and his family. Anyway, I ended up breaking up with him again in February of 2019 and moving back closer to home. During this second breakup, I learned about 4–FOURMORE women he cheated on me with. (Are you keeping track? What are we at now, 7??)

A month after moving out of his parents’ house, I was still spurning his constant attempts to “get me back.” I had moved to an apartment less than 10 minutes from my hometown, 2 hours away from where he lived, and yet he still was driving down almost every single day to “prove” his dedication? loyalty? trustworthiness?… Desperation? A few times I came home after work (this is after 10pm, mind you) to him inside my apartment “surprising” me with dinner or some type of gift. He even tried to propose to me using his class ring at one point, but my best friend had tipped me off to his plan so I refused to see him that day. I kicked him out of my apartment several times during the next 2-ish months.

Eventually, I was talking with a mutual friend of ours (for the sake of privacy, we will call her Anne) and I asked her what her thoughts on Ex were, whether he had changed, etc. She told me that he had been texting her as well, asking for her advice on how to get back together with me and that she did genuinely think that he had changed, become a better man. It was with Anne’s encouragement that I gave in and we got back together.

And, for a while, it did seem as if things were better. We communicated; we were trusting and, for the most part, happy. He moved into my apartment once he finished up his semester at university upstate, we hosted game nights, and our circle of friends continued to grow. With so much going well and so many plans for the future, what could go wrong? We had worked through all of our issues from the past, right?

But alas, we’ve come to the part of the story that is the hardest to tell. The part I’m most hesitant and reluctant to share. Because I should’ve kicked him out right then and there. Broken things off for good.

To make a long, uncomfortable story short, I was awakened during the early morning hours one night…by him groping me. I have no better word for it nor do I want to go into more detail. This is the one memory from our time together that I have tried to force myself to forget, telling myself it didn’t mean anythingmaybe it was an accident? maybe he thought I would like the “surprise”? maybemaybemaybe……… There’s no excuse to justify what happened, and the difficult truth I had to eventually come to accept is that I was assaulted by my own boyfriend, in my own home.

I should’ve kicked him out.

But I didn’t.

Why?

I was furious, but also filled with shame and blamed myself. Maybe I wasn’t doing enough? Maybe I just wasn’t giving him enough attention…?

In the time since, I’ve done a lot of reading on how victims survivors of sexual assault feel afterward, and I was (still am, sometimes) feeling almost all of the listed responses to trauma. I hate placing myself in with other survivors; I don’t consider myself a survivor. My experience wasn’t violent, I wasn’t actually hurt, and I definitely don’t want to minimize the actual trauma that many others have faced. But all the same, I am. I have had to work through a lot since then, and I’m mostly healed now. I’ve only ever told my 3 closest friends about this, and now I’m telling to whole internet; it’s terrifying.

After that, I tried my hardest to play it off as not meaning anything. But there’s really no coming back from the loss of what little trust we had managed to rebuild. Almost as if in a dream, we slowly drifted farther and farther apart. By the end, we were simply roommates, and I think we both knew that there was no recovering this time. A breakup was imminent, but we both put it off because we had vacations planned, payments, and a lease (among other things). There’s just never a “good” time for a breakup.

Everything culminated when I caught Ex in another lie. He had been talking to Anne, telling her personal details about our intimate relations. Anne, in turn, had been sharing these details with a significant portion of our friend group. One of these friends—we’ll call her Beth—put up a vague post on social media (without naming names) that included details that she wouldn’t have been able to know without being told. Knowing the post was directed toward me and my relationship, I confronted Ex about it, asking if he had talked to anyone outside the two of us about our relationship. HE SAID NO. Knowing he was lying, I sent a screenshot of Beth’s aforementioned post to him. To which he replied, “Oh yeah, I talked to Anne, but she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone else.”

Actually, you know what, I’m 100% THAT BITCH and have receipts from the actual conversation:

  • Me: Have you been talking to other people about our relationship?
  • Ex: No. I haven’t. But I’m sure people can tell that we aren’t happy.
  • Me: Well Beth posted something last night that was too coincidental for her to not know details about our relationship, so…
  • Ex: What?
  • Me: *image* (I don’t actually have the screenshot anymore, unfortunately.)
  • Ex: Yeah, I ranted to Anne a bit. Thinking she could shut the fuck up about it. But trust me when I say I won’t be talking to her about anything ever again lololol
  • Me: I’ve asked you before not to talk to other people about our problems. You’re supposed to talk to me about them so we can work through things.
  • Ex: So, what do you want to do?
  • Me: No, for once tell me what you want to do.
  • Ex: Then I guess we should be done.
  • Me: Ok. What about our friends? You can stay in group chat, I’m cool with us all still being friends.
  • Ex: They’re all yours haha. Honestly I’ll leave the group, and I won’t talk to any of them. They really have always been your friends and not mine tbh. It’s not a big deal, I promise.

“I guess we should be done.” Biiitch, tf?? This was all over IM *at work,* mind you.

As I said before, there’s never a good time for a breakup, but 10:30AM on a Tuesday while at work is as good a time as any I suppose. By 8:00 that night, he had moved himself and all of his belongings out of our shared apartment and had moved back with his parents 2 hours away. This might sound terrible but I honestly wasn’t upset about the loss of the relationship.

Understandably, I was upset with Anne though. I couldn’t allow myself to talk to her about the breakup for about a week because I knew I would say something I would regret. When we did finally talk, I thought we were good and everything was fine; we’re adults who had a healthy discussion. I was there for her when she went through her last breakup, so I assumed she would apply that same loyalty toward me and my breakup.

How wrong I was about that.

Less than a month after the breakup, Ex had already made plans to go visit Anne, who had moved several states away. Anne didn’t tell me about it (or even tell me they were still friendly) until less than a week before his trip was to happen, which was extremely shady to me. Because, as I told Ex, I didn’t care if he still wanted to be friends with my friends. TO WHICH HE RESPONDED: “They’re all yours… I won’t talk to any of them.” Lies on top of lies was this man’s specialty.

Anyway, when Anne told me Ex was going to visit her, it got me thinking if something other than friendship was going on between the two of them. After about a week of speculating with my other friends, I got sick of all the sneaky, snake-like behavior that was going on, and I messaged Anne directly, asking her if anything was going on between the two of them. Saying that I wouldn’t be mad so long as she was honest about it because I didn’t want to lose her as a friend. She admitted that they were practically dating, and I tried my best to be supportive. However, knowing the histories of both Ex and Anne, I’m 98% positive that something (be it something as “innocent” as a flirtation) was happening between them while Ex and I were still together.

And to think, it was Anne who convinced me to get back together with him that last time.

And that’s the hottest tea that came from this situation.

One of my closest friends and my former boyfriend had been, at the very least, flirting with each other WHILE we were still together.

I cannot say with certainty that any physical cheating ever happened between Ex and Anne while we were dating, but my gut says that it did. I also found out, after the fact, that Ex had tried to get with another of my friends shortly before the breakup occurred. Bringing the total times I was cheated on or attempted to be cheated on by this same man to a whopping 9—NINE.

I know I’m going to get flack for staying in this obviously terrible and unhealthy relationship for as long as I did. And I don’t want you to think less of me because of it. But honestly, I was comfortable.

I got used to being with this person, and during both of our breakups, a big factor for getting back together was fear: fear that no one else would ever want to be with me. Being in such a toxic relationship really takes its toll on a person’s self esteem; I’m still very much afraid that I won’t find anyone again.

I’ve grown immensely in the time since this last breakup. I finally know who I am as an individual again. I’m clever, smart, adventurous, daring, and stronger than I thought possible. I have so much love to give, in this soft, sensitive heart of mine. All that’s left to do is find someone worth sharing it with, and I’ve got all the time in the world. I will never settle for simply comfort and convenience again. I deserve better.

Much better.


*   Please note, this is only my side of the story; I’m sure he has his own version of events.

**   I am fundamentally a person who believes that any relationship earns a reasonable expectation of privacy, so I will be refraining from naming any names. Those who know me personally will know without having to say explicitly.

I Am Enough

This post makes me anxious. Every post before this one has made me anxious. Are people even going to read what I write? Does anyone even care what I have to say? What if I post this and my peers judge me or just dismiss my thoughts and feelings entirely? This post is going to be my most personal and vulnerable yet, so buckle up and please know that I’m still working through this myself.

Something that almost no one knows about me is that, back in the fall of 2016, I was officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder coupled with a pretty severe case of social anxiety disorder. It’s not something I talk about; I’ve never even told anyone that I saw a psychologist. Now, I’m not ashamed that I sought treatment. On the contrary! I’m proud of myself for actually taking the time to work on my mental health.

So, why haven’t I talked about it, been open, worked toward ending the stigma? Three reasons: the things I’m struggling with are no one else’s business, this realization and diagnosis came at an especially stressful time in my life, and, quite frankly, I just wasn’t ready to talk about it openly before.

One thing that I don’t understand about society today is why everyone has to be in each other’s business ALL THE TIME. I know, with absolute certainty, that a great deal of people wouldn’t have believed that I have anxiety if I had been open about it from the beginning (Some people still won’t believe it.). Around the same time that I sought help, I had several friends mention something along the lines of, “Why does everyone have anxiety these days? They didn’t have anxiety in high school!” Statements and conversations like this are part of the reason I’ve kept this to myself for over 2 years; I didn’t want people to be saying those types of things behind my back. Even though, I can guarantee that I 100% did have anxiety back in school. I’ve struggled with anxious tendencies and nervous ticks for as long as I can remember.

When I first realized that I was struggling harder than usual, I had just moved away from home for the first time, started a new school, and was living in a very toxic environment for my mental health.

I didn’t move out of my mom’s house until I was 20, and when I did move out, it was fairly abrupt. I had originally been planning on moving early to mid-August. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I ended up moving over a month earlier than anticipated. Within a week, I had packed, moved, and transferred to the Salt Lake branch of my workplace. Suddenly, I found myself in an unfamiliar home in an unfamiliar city surrounded by unfamiliar people.

A friend’s family had agreed to let me live with them while I was attending classes at the University of Utah. At the time, I was planning on majoring in history with a minor in politics. I eventually wanted to go on to attend law school (lol). Once August came around, I officially started classes. Unfortunately, I immediately got sick with my first ever case of the stomach flu and missed the entire second week of classes, setting me pretty far behind and causing immense strain on my academics. I also learned, the hard way of course, that my American history professor didn’t allow students into their class late. If you were even a minute late to the lecture, the doors would be locked. As someone who used public transportation to get to and from campus, it was nearly impossible to arrive on time if I missed the train after work. Not to mention the campus was more than three times the size of the local university I had previously attended.

To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement.

Topping off this stressful situation, the family I was staying with were… unwelcoming. The only place I felt even close to comfortable in the house was in “my room,” but even that never felt like my own space. I was just borrowing that room from them, after all. This ended up causing me to isolate myself in that room, and I was more unhappy than I had ever been before.

ANYWAY: I ended up having an anxiety attack in my American sign language class in early September. So, I made an appointment with the free counseling center at the university. In total, I ended up going to one appointment per month for the duration of my time attending the U of U. Those hour long sessions with the most wonderful psychologist were 100% what I needed to get my mental health in check. My eyes were definitely opened to the indicators of my own anxiety.

Some of my nervous ticks include: hand fidgeting, scratching, jaw clenching (this one is happening as I write), finger chewing… Thankfully, therapy taught me healthy coping mechanisms like breathing exercises and mindfulness. So far, these techniques have been working for me and I’m a lot more confident and comfortable being who I am. Therapy also helped me decide that I needed a break from school and that I wanted to move back to my home town, which I will be forever grateful for.

Anxiety definitely prevents me from doing a lot of things at times, especially when strangers or general acquaintances are involved. I rarely start conversations, have difficulty going new places alone, and don’t often try new things. However, since learning how to deal with these disorders, I’ve been able to narrow down the issues and work through a lot of situations. The one I still struggle with the most is starting conversations with people I want to talk to. Do they want to hear from me? What if I’m annoying them?

I’ve been “awkward” my whole life, and finally having a name for the way I am definitely helped me understand why I am the way I am. Does that make me any less anxious and awkward? Not really. But does that mean there’s room for improvement? Absolutely. I don’t think I’ll ever be anxiety free, but I can ensure that I don’t let it control my life. I am enough, just the way I am.

Vibrate Love

In the world we live in, it is soo easy to drown in the bad and the stressful things going on around us. Sometimes, we need a lifeguard to dive in and rescue us, and then take a breath. Just breathe and take a moment to think about the positives in your life that you didn’t notice through your tunnel vision.

Between the busyness of my day-to-day life and my professional life, it has been easy to fall into a negative mindset. Something minor goes wrong like not getting a text back from someone? Wow, something must be wrong with me; I’m obviously not good enough or pretty enough or smart enough. Got stood up not once, but twice? Might as well just carve the whole muscle out of my chest.

But somehow, for some reason, I keep letting people into my heart only to end up being hurt. Over and over. Constantly. Continuously.

I’ve been ignored and forgotten about, but I’m the type of person who will forgive you despite your bogus excuses. Oh, you got your arm stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store? That’s fiiiiiine, no worries! Time and again: screw me over 19 times? *I* will apologize to *you* for not trying hard enough or for not wanting to bother you.

And no matter how irritated and sick of these games and the disappointments that I get, I refuse to let the world shred my hope. People will never make me callused and hard. This life we live needs more people who are open and kind. There is already too much bitterness and pain in existence, and we shouldn’t be contributing to the hate and anger. We should open ourselves up and be receptive to the positivity and sweetness that some are radiating.

This life is too short and our time here not guaranteed. So push through the hurt and the sorrow. For there has to be a light at the end of the dark, musty tunnel.

Lessons Learned

Dear Dad,

It has officially been 8 years since you last hugged me. 8 years since you told me to have a good day at school and that you loved me. 8 years full of questions without answers.

I know you were sick and struggling with a lot of things, and I also know you thought what you were doing was right and best for everyone. But you were wrong. You choosing to end your life was the worst thing for all of us.

You’ve already missed so many things. You never got to see any of your kids get their drivers licenses, graduate, or get married. You’ll miss out on your children-in-law, grandkids, and grand-dogs. You weren’t here to disapprove of my first tattoo… or my second, third, or fourth (2 of them are in your honor). You weren’t even there to dance with me or my sister at our junior proms. You’ve missed so much already, and there will only be more.

For at least the first few years, I blamed you. I’m not proud to admit that, but it’s true. I didn’t understand why or how you could leave your wife and 4 kids without any warning or explanation. We all had to grow up and adjust way too quickly — the instant we heard what had happened.

Now I understand that it wasn’t you who made that irreversible choice; it was the various disorders you were trying to deal with alone, going untreated. The alcoholism, insomnia, undiagnosed anxiety, and apparent depression. I wish every day that you had gotten help, that you were still around to shoot the breeze with, but losing you also taught me some valuable lessons.

I learned to be cautious around and weary of alcohol, often times being the designated driver. I didn’t even drink at all until after I was 21 and could legally do so. I learned to deal with my feelings when I’m anxious and talk about it instead of internalizing. And the most important thing I learned was that, no matter what’s going on in my life, no matter the circumstances, if I’m ever feeling overwhelmed and like there’s only 1 way out, I will seek help.

I’ve never felt the way you must have, and I hope I never do, but I also refuse to ever be the reason that another person would feel the way I was feeling for so many years.

Every day I miss you. I miss our talks when you would drive me home from school, the debates we would get into about current events and politics. I miss your smile and your goofy personality. I miss having someone to hug every single day, and I even miss that damn Cryptkeeper mask you would scare us with every chance you got.

I just wish you were still here.

Miss you and love you.

Always.

The “Happiest” Place on Earth

Let me first preface this post by explaining that I do not have fond memories from my first visit to Disneyland/California Adventure Park. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I took a week-long trip to California with my dance company. Unfortunately, no one else from my actual class chose to go on this trip. I ended up having to room/spend the week with 3 girls that I barely knew and did not get along with. They were all friends with each other, so whatever they agreed upon doing/riding is what we ended up doing.

We spent all of the last 2 days of the trip at Disneyland/California Adventure Park. Following their every whim was exhausting, and I was miserable. So my feelings about Disneyland were relatively negative after this experience.

ANYWAY! Back in January, I took my second trip to Disneyland/California Adventure Park. This experience was much better than the original; however, by the end of the first day, I was already done and ready to go home. It’s not that the company was bad or the park wasn’t fun, but I just don’t think it’s worth the money, distance, time, and effort to deal with crowds, lines, wait times, and having to pay even more money.

I think we only rode an average of 6-8 rides per day the whole 2-and-a-half days we were there (there are over 60 rides and attractions at Disneyland and 34 at California Adventure Park!). Which means we rode, at most, 1/4 of the total rides in the parks.

I will say that they have excellent coffee, croissants, and soft pretzels though. The pretzels almost make up for everything else, almost. I read a quote by Paul Beatty a while ago that really resonated with me. He said, “If Disneyland was indeed the Happiest Place on Earth, you’d either keep it a secret or the price of admission would be free.”

I whole-heartedly agree with this quote because I know for a fact that the Happiest Place on Earth is at home, in my cozy apartment, cuddled up with my pup after a long day.